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14.

The well looks much as it did then, though someone has placed a concrete plug over it nowadays so that children dont fall in. Of course, we have running water now. In my mothers day the well was the only drinking water we had apart from the overspill from the rain gutter, which we only used for watering. It was a giant brick cylindrical affair, rising some five feet off the ground, with a hand pump to draw off the water. At the top of the cylinder, a padlocked wooden lid prevented accidents and contamination. Sometimes, when the weather had been very dry, the well water was yellow and brackish, but for most of the year it was sweet. After reading The Time Machine, Cassis and I had gone through a phase of playing Morlocks and Eloi around the well, which reminded me, in its grim solidity, of the dark holes into which the creatures had vanished.

We waited until night was almost falling before returning home. We carried the bundle of Tomass clothes, hiding it in a thick patch of lavender bushes at the end of the garden until nightfall. We brought the parcel of magazines too-not even Cassis was interested in looking at it after what had happened. One of us would have to make some excuse to go out, said Cassis-by that, of course, he meant I should have to do it-quickly retrieve the bundle and throw it, along with the unopened parcel, into the well. The key to the padlock hung on the back of the door with the rest of our house keys-it was even labeled Well, Mothers passion for neatness being what it was-and could easily be removed and replaced without Mother noticing. After that, said Cassis with that unaccustomed harshness in his voice, the rest was up to us. We had never known, never heard of, a Tomas Leibniz. We had never spoken to any German soldiers. Hauer and the others would keep their mouths shut if they knew what was good for them. All we had to do was look stupid and say nothing at all.


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